Jan 27, 2013 3:30pm PST
of santa maria. nbc's mike taibbi reports. >> reporter: the kiss nightclub was packed with the usual saturday night crowd when at 2:00 in the morning, a disaster. the ground floor was filled with smoke. club security initially blocked several emergency exits, thinking patrons were leaving without paying and that left only a few ways out. in the ensuing panic, many victims were trampled, others died of smoke inhalation. witnesses told police the fire was sparked by a pyrotechnics show on stage, according to nick ravenskroft of itv news. >> the stunt on stage with the flare made the ceiling catch fire. >> reporter: whatever the precise cause, the fire spread incredibly quickly as the crowd struggled to find ways to safety. some clubgoers who did make it out, joined firemen and onlookers in their attempts to open new escape routes using sledge hammers and axes, but it was too late for many inside. does of victims were carried to arising ambulances, if they survived. santa maria's major trauma hospital was quickly overwhelmed. >> translator: the injured are scattered around the hospital.